​Our bodies are made up of 70% fluid.  The list of what these fluids are is extensive and ranges from blood and lymph to gastric juices, mucus, salvia and ear wax right through to menstrual blood, breast milk, sweat and tears.  In order to keep these fluids flowing, we need to hydrate.  It seems simple enough, but many of us are chronically dehydrated.  There are many reasons for this; we do not drink enough water, we drink too many diuretics (coffee, tea, fizzy drinks), our bodies have lost the ability to hydrate (after years of chronic dehydration) and stress.

As a general rule of thumb, a woman should consume approximately 1.5 to 2 litres of clean water a day.  A man, 2 to 3 litres a day.   (No more than a pint or 600ml an hour though, we don’t want to overload the kidneys).  While a child, 5 to 11 years, needs to drink between 300 – 900ml a day (depending on their age, size and physical activity).  This is water, not juices, squash, milk or fizzy drinks – clear fluids, like water.  In higher temperatures or big exercise, it can be more.

The brain registers thirst only when IT is about to be impacted.  Often thirst shows up as a feeling of hunger, this is not the thirst we feel after exercise or exertion.  This is because the hunger/thirst response is on the same loop in the brain.  For this reason, instead of reaching for a snack, try a glass of water first.

The brain is the last organ to register dehydration within the body.    This means, when the brain is dehydrated, every other organ is also dehydrated.  This shows up as physically as constipation, muscle aches, dry skin and hair, brittle nails, lower back pain and headaches.  At head level, it shows up as brain fog, fatigue, overwhelm, impatience & indecisiveness.  Research also links dehydration to other health issues which include urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, some allergies, forms of depression and STRESS.

Stress has become a part of daily life.  To combat this many people, exercise, take Mindful moments, read and listen to music.  Some drink heavily, eat takeaway food and go shopping.  There are many strategies that people use.  Obviously, some have longer-term physical and mental upsides than others.  Seldom, do I see a stressed person reach for a glass of water.  However, I want to propose the following –

Stress leads to dehydration and dehydration leads to stress.

Dealing with stress and experiencing dehydration leads to the same physical response pattern in the body, that of fight or flight.  Both mobilize and release hormones (endorphins, cortisone release factor, prolactin and vasopressin) to deal with the situation (whether, socially called for or not).  Road rage is a common example of this.  On a journey, we don’t drink enough because we don’t want to stop.  Driving does throw up unusual (stressful) situations that the body can quickly turn into a fight or flight issue.  Whether we feel it and act on it (with bad language, thumping the steering wheel or something more aggressive), deep down we often realize the irrationality of it (even if it is later) and can’t control it.

A dehydrated person may find it difficult to cope with more than one thing and will lose concentration easily.  They are more than likely quick to anger.  My children respond to dehydration in the following way – they become tearful and angry.  They lose perspective and become tunnel visioned.  My teenagers lose motivation, they are quickly angry and irrational.  A glass of water (and a cuddle) later, they are back on track.    I am the same!